Evading Dragons, Part Five: Knowing What We Know
Hester took a small vial out of his pack. Using a dropper, he took a drop of the liquid out and put it on a metal plate. Then he pulled a vial from the other side of his pack and using a different dropper he took a drop of the second vial. He dropped the second drop on the first. At contact, the two liquids started to bubble. Hester said, “now for the magic.” He lightly bleu on the two drops. A flame shot from the drops that went for about a second. Hester said, “that was just two drops. Now imagine what you could do with more.” The man at the table sat there staring at the place where this man showed him the dragon fire. He asked, “where did you get it?” Hester looked to Lars in the corner then said, “trade secrets.” Off in a corner, an old woman said, “there is only one place you can get it and only one way to get it.” The man bargaining with Hester didn’t seem to acknowledge the woman and what she said. The woman turned to Lars and said, “the secret is in how the binary liquid absorbs and ignites the oxygen in the breath. Otherwise, the dragons would ignite every time they spit.”
The man asked, “so what’s your price?” Before he could answer the woman said, “it’s worthless to them and is more of a party trick for us so don’t offer much.” Hester looked at the woman then back to the man. He was once again not listening to her. She just shook her head and said to herself, “a flame that big would attract too much attention and carry that much dragon bile was just plain stupid.” Lars watched this woman from when they first came into the village. He had never seen anyone of her age before. When they met Jennifer, she said she was ninety-seven. Most people were lucky or unlucky enough to see fifty. She was the Great Grandmother of the village’s leader. After her age, the thing that stuck with Lars the most was just how dismissive people were of her. No one wanted to talk with or listen to her. The man named Levi gave a detailed accounting of the surrounding area which included a map of what was called the Appalachian Trail. Jennifer just shook her head.
Lars asked her, “do you think he really made a bad trade?” She turned to him with a surprised look on her face. She smiled and said, “no more than the bad bargain you all made. That map is pre-dragon. There is no telling just how off it is now.” Lars went to his bag and brought out a small bottle with a cork. He pulled the cork then poured a small amount into a glass and gave it to Jennifer. She smelled it then smiled. She said, “that is a scent I haven’t smelt in many years.” She took a sip of the whiskey and let it swirl in her mouth. Lars said, “its funny but anytime you find people growing corn you find a still and whiskey. I think they used honey to ferment it.” Jennifer looked at Lars and asked, “have you been listening to me the whole time?” Lars replied, “why was that wrong?” Jennifer looked at the man at the table then back to the door. She said, “they stopped listening to me a long time ago. I forgot what it was like to be heard.” Lars saw her pat a book on her lap. She seemed to hold some reverence for it. Jennifer asked, “so do you know how to as you put it ferment whiskey?” Lars said, “you distill it and yes I do but it requires some specialized tools. I do know how to make beer.” Jennifer leaned in and said, “when my great-great-grandson is done giving away the store I want to talk to you and that man that is clearly not your father about a trade that would be good for us both.”
An hour later, Hester, Lars, and Jennifer were near a fireplace sipping whiskey and talking. Jennifer made them an offer. She said, “I have these.” She held up a series of notebooks.” She went on, “these are diaries going back six generations in my family. They are a window into the past and a fountain of information.” Hester looked at the paper gold then back to the man that traded him dried beans for dragon’s breath. He asked, “why wouldn’t they want them?” Jennifer said, “while it is complicated it involves how they see me and how they see the past. Some of the information written down first-hand conflicts with what they think happened. People want to believe what they think is right rather than accept a new truth.” As she spoke, Lars watched the others. Jennifer looked at Lars. She said, “they don’t mean anything by it. I am old and to them what they know is sacred. Anything that contradicts it is almost heresy.” Lars said, “I have never met someone over ninety before.” Jennifer responded, “that’s ok, neither have I.” Jennifer gave them one of the books and said, “check this out and come back in two days. If you don’t believe what you read then no harm. If you do, then we will talk price.”
The book had a weird number and what Hester knew to be a date on it. Jennifer said the book was her Great Grandfather and was from sixty years ago. The date on the front was January 1st, 2184. It also had the dragon date of One hundred and forty-four which signifies how long it was after the war with the dragons. If he had the dates right, it was the year Two hundred and Thirteen PDW (Post Dragon War). The first couple of pages were clearly written by a child. It spoke of his family and his friends. It also spoke of the dragons. His name was James. He spoke of how as a child he saw his grandfather with a dragon. He was face-to-face with the monster and it wasn’t eating him. He wrote that it seemed like they were conversating. Hester noted that if the collection was in order then they would have a diary for that man. The idea that people were talking to dragons around eighty years ago was in direct contradiction to everything he was told growing up. The idea that anyone but the dragon builders talked to them was almost like she said, heresy. It was common knowledge that the dragon builders made the dragons to kill off most of the population, so they could rebuild the world. Only the dragons couldn’t be controlled, and they killed off the builders. The book had a map in it showing a location of something valuable, but it didn’t say what it was.
Mapping the Red Zone
Hester held the map in the book to the maps he had from the recent trading. The location in the book was in a red zone which was known for young dragons. There weren’t many such sites. Older dragons saw the younger ones as competition. The old ones were known to go into a red zone and kill every young dragon found. Lars asked, “so do we go or not?” Hester said, “I have lived my life knowing don’t take chances. People that do don’t live long. So, yes we are going.” Lars asked, “do we tell the others?” Hester said, “we need to tell everyone everything. It’s the only way we can all be safe. If I find out you are keeping secrets, then you will find yourself out.” Lars looked at Val then back to Hester. Hester said, “yeah I know, and if you think that was a secret then I think we have nothing to worry about.”
Would you go?
Hester and Lars watched as two dragons the size of large dogs wrestled in the tall grass. Hester said, “they seem to be around six to seven years old. About the age they leave the nest but before they gain the ability to breathe fire.” He told them that the younger dragons had an extra row of teeth that could bite through the dragon scale of even the older dragons. He said, “it keeps the dragons from just killing off their species. Those teeth are more valuable than anything else in the world.” The two dragons flew off. Hester and lars ran for what should be an opening in the ground. In what looked like a natural bluff they found a steel door. The door was unlocked. Lars said, “the dragons are a better than any actual lock.” Hester called them guard dragons. Inside they found what was once a precious collection of books that were now torn to shreds. They also found ancient weapons that took a component call bullets that were now about as useful as the club Hester carried. Then they found a case containing juvenile dragon teeth. Hester carefully pulled one out by the root. He then stuck it in a stainless-steel table. The tooth cut into it with ease. Hester asked, “I wonder how they could have a row of these in their mouths and not cut themselves to death?”
Jennifer sat on her porch and watched the trail. She knew they would be back. One of the younger men in her village saw the two strangers in the red zone. They would come back with something valuable, and they would bargain for the books. For a long time, she was considered a burden on the village. She had outlived her usefulness and was just a drain on their resources. Now she would have proof that she was not past knowing and maybe she would get what she wanted. Hester came to the main entrance to the village with a woman. She said her name was Lee and she wanted to see if they could trade for some material. Hester went to Jennifer. The people watched as he handed her a case. He said, “this was your families, and it didn’t seem right to take it.” She opened it in a way so only she could see what was inside. She closed the case and gave it back to him. She said, “let’s just consider this as a down payment on what I want.”
The next day the group left their encampment near the village. A couple of the villagers were out to say goodbye, but most were just happy to see her go. Jennifer was off with the group. Her trade was that they would take her to a place she called the Graves of the Fathers. She had seen it once as a child and now wanted to see it one more time. She figured she would die there or on the way. Either way, she would no longer stay with people that didn’t want her there anymore. Helena watched her as they walked. They had to move a little slower than before but not by much. There was no telling if they would see this place she spoke of or die on the way. They had a good group and enough information to make the trip a little easier. Hester had the books in his pack and just wanted to stop and read as much as possible. He wanted to know all that they could know.
Can they trust the Diaries?
Note from Me (a name I call myself)
The next part of the story will he Hester reading the diaries as Jennifer talks to the others. This will give a greater look into the past of this world as well as the lives of the group before the trip. Because of the nature of the next part, it will take a little more time than usual. When finished this will act as the foundation for the rest of the story.